These days, having a career is a creative act.

When I talk about careers, I mean your life’s work, not just your job. While jobs are certainly a component, our careers have bigger meaning that goes beyond stringing together a series of tasks to keep us occupied and with a roof over our heads.

Create your own path

The world of work is changing so fast that the old formulas no longer work – there are no more career “ladders” and we certainly don’t have guaranteed outcomes.

So if you aspire to a career that’s rewarding beyond a series of jobs, then you have to carve your own path.

That means being creative in putting together the series of projects, jobs, roles and “side gigs” that allow you to thrive. To be your best self and share your talents with the world while also providing for your daily living needs.

What every successful creator has

Since we’re all creators now, it’s important to know the one thing every successful creator has had: a “true believer”. Someone who recognizes your talent and cheers you on to your wins. People who support you through the tough times and help you believe in yourself when there’s doubt.

For Thomas Edison, it was his mother who helped him become one of the greatest inventors in the world after he was kicked out of school for lack of intelligence. For Vincent van Gogh, it was his brother who supported him as a starving artist.

In my own case, I’ve been fortunate to have true believers in my parents, then my husband, and now also my team and the mastermind communities I belong to.

They helped me during the many times I was about to quit but really wanted to stay. They also supported me when I needed the courage to say ‘yes’ to that stretch assignment. And more recently, they believed in me when I finally left my comfort zone to try something new.

Beyond sponsors and mentors

While your true believers might include your sponsor or mentors, it’s really a different role. Frankly, true believers are people who have your back in a way that goes way beyond what it means to be a sponsor or mentor.

In my experience, your true believers are typically behind-the-scenes and personal to you. That also makes the relationship portable – it’ll travel along with you whatever you do and whichever job you have. That’s why true believers are often family members or old friends.

Using famous people as an example, their true believers are likely to be people who knew them before they became the equivalent of Oprah. People who can be trusted and whose motives are not in question.

Nurture your true believers

But being a true believer doesn’t mean blindly supporting someone where there’s no substance. In fact, when someone is your true believer, they know your capabilities, passions and aspirations. And they also know how and where you shine.

To deserve a true believer, you must continually invest in your own growth and learning. By demonstrating your commitment to yourself and your career, you’ll have a better shot at holding onto those true believers and making your aspirations a reality.

As you create the career and life you want, who are your true believers? Take a moment to really think about this and then commit to nurturing those relationships because they are gold.

Hopefully, your life and career path will be long. And having those true believers by your side will make it more meaningful and prosperous as well.

Be a true believer

Then, most importantly, for whom are you a true believer? Treasure this role. Your contribution is significant and I’m sure you’re helping that person more than you can ever know.

Now it’s over to you.

How do you show appreciation for your true believers? And what will you do to support someone else you believe in?

Leave a comment and let me know.